When you think of the following people, what comes to mind?
PYTHAGORAS, PLATO, & ARISTOTLE
What comes to my mind is a group of wise men, great philosophers, mathematicians, and scientist. I think of the foundations of mathematics and the foundational wisdom that our knowledge still stands on today. After reading through the history of these people, I came to find that there was an underlying element of their beliefs that went slightly unnoticed. Christianity and religion actually played a role in their findings and they incorporated that into their work. In this blog, I will talk through some of their beliefs and how that tied into mathematics.
P Y T H A G O R A S
Let's journey back many centuries for a moment where we find Pythagoras in a world where Christianity and mathematics were interlinked in every way. He believed that the earth was a sphere simply because it is the most perfect shape and if it was made by a perfect Creator, it must be a sphere. He also saw the beauty in theory of numbers and was able to use that to create music; the same music we are using today. Since the Pythagoreans time, mathematics has never played such a big roll in religion. Pythagoras discovered the Pythagorean Theorem hundreds of thousands of years ago, and yet today in 2017, all around the world you will find students learning about the Pythagorean Theorem. Isn't it kind of crazy to think that we haven't discovered any better method so many years later? The fact the we are still using that same method in the year 2017, is mind blowing if you think about everything around us that as change in that time span.
I read an article that talked about this idea and the ended it with a statement along the lines of, when you've found truth.. there's nothing to perfect. To make the connection between the Pythagorean Theorem and Christianity here I'll end with this: when you've found Jesus, you'll realize that there's in fact nothing to perfect. No matter how many years pass by, the same God that created the stars in the sky is the same God alive today. Truth is truth.
"To all of us who hold the Christian belief that God is truth, anything that is true is a fact about God, and mathematics is a branch of theology."
~Hilda Phoebe Hudson
P L A T O & A R I S T O T L E
As stated in the title, Plato gave theory of creation based off a good God. I also read that Plato gives a proof of God's existence in Metaphysics, which is based on a mathematical argument of motion. He argued that if every motion has a cause, then there must a be a first cause of motion, which is God.
Aristotle's work was based mainly off the ideas that Plato had but with more of a physics mindset. Aristotle believed more along the lines of physics based off necessity apposed to on purpose. Some people actually used Aristotle's physics to argue the truth in the book of Genesis in the Bible.
For example, in Genesis 1:7, "And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so."
According to Aristotle's physics, water belongs below and therefore how could water exist "above the firmament"?
Augustine (Christian Theologian) would usually respond with this statement as an explanation, "Sacred Scripture in its customary style is speaking with the limitations of human language in addressing men of limited understanding."
This is where mathematics and Christianity differ in some ways. In my own math teaching, I emphasize that importance of understanding the "why." Understanding why something works gives you so much depth on a topic and you are able to apply it in many more ways.
When it comes to Christianity, that is not always the case. We don't always get to understand why things happen. We just have to trust His promises and believe that He will make all things work together for the good of those who love Him. Our understanding and knowledge is so small compared to that of the Lord, therefore we can't possible put reasoning with all He does.
I've been studying mathematics for the past three years and I've just started to realize the connection between math and God. The complexity and yet simplicity in math is how I tend to feel towards my God at times. I'm still learning how these two topics intertwine but starting with the history of math, is my first step.